February is Heart Month!
Did you know that the average adult’s heart beats 72 times every minute? On a daily basis, the heart creates enough energy to drive a vehicle 20 miles.
From The Heart and Stroke Foundation’s website: Your heart is a muscle that gets energy from blood carrying oxygen and nutrients. Having a constant supply of blood keeps your heart working properly. Most people think of heart disease as one condition. But in fact, heart disease is a group of conditions affecting the structure and functions of the heart and has many root causes.
Heart disease is the number one killer in North America, and it’s almost completely preventable.
Your best defense is controlling the risk factors that could lead to coronary artery disease, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking, stress, excessive alcohol consumption, physical inactivity and being overweight.
Proper nutrition is essential for maintaining a healthy heart.
Two minerals that are important for heart health are calcium and magnesium.
When most people think of the mineral calcium, they think about bone health, but calcium also plays an important role in heart health, helping your heart beat and contract properly. Any abnormality in calcium levels leads to impaired contraction / relaxation, and may lead to heart failure.
The Recommended Daily Allowance for Calcium is 1000 mg for men and 1200 mg for women. The best way to obtain calcium is through your diet.
Foods rich in calcium include:
Collard Greens: 1 Cup cooked has approximately 270 mg.
Broccoli: 1 Cup raw has approximately 90 mg.
Broccoli Rabe: 2/3 Cup has approximately 100 mg.
Kale: 1 Cup raw has approximately 100 mg.
Edamame: 1 Cup cooked has approximately 100 mg.
Bok Choy: 1 Cup raw, shredded has approximately 75 mg.
Dried Fig: ½ Cup has approximately 120 mg. (be sure to buy unsweetened dried figs)
Orange: 1 Large has approximately 75 mg.
Sardines: 1 3.75 oz can, oil packed, has approximately 350 mg.
Canned Salmon: ½ can, oil packed, has approximately 230 mg.
Almonds: 1 oz. or about 23 almonds has approximately 75 mg.
Chickpeas: 1 Cup cooked has approximately 210 mg.
Black Beans: 1 Cup cooked has approximately 235 mg.
Kidney Beans: 1 Cup raw has approximately 265 mg.
Tahini (Sesame Paste): ½ Cup has approximately 480 mg.
Magnesium is necessary for normal muscle function. A shortage can cause or worsen congestive heart failure, atherosclerosis, chest pain, high blood pressure, heart muscle disease, heart attack and even sudden cardiac death.Your cells need a steady supply of magnesium to maintain proper smooth muscle function in your blood vessels.
The Daily Recommended Intake of magnesium for men is 400 – 420 mg. and for women its 310 -320 mg.
Magnesium is another mineral that can be obtained through a whole foods diet.
Foods rich in magnesium include:
Spinach: ½ Cup cooked has approximately 85 mg.
Swiss Chard: ½ Cup cooked has approximately 80 mg.
Edamame: ½ Cup cooked has approximately 50 mg.
Potato, with skin: 1 Medium, cooked has approximately 50 mg.
Quinoa: ½ Cup cooked has approximately 45 mg.
Brown Rice: 1 Cup cooked has approximately 85 mg.
Millet: 1 Cup cooked has approximately 225mg.
Chickpeas: ¾ Cup cooked has approximately 85 mg.
White Kidney Beans: ¾ Cup cooked has approximately 85 mg.
Pinto Beans: ¾ Cup cooked has approximately 85 mg.
Lentils: ¾ Cup cooked has approximately 50 mg.
Pumpkin Seeds: ¼ Cup shelled has approximately 315 mg.
Sunflower Seeds: ¼ Cup shelled has approximately 120 mg.
Almonds: ¼ Cup has approximately 100 mg.
Cashews: ¼ Cup has approximately 90 mg.
As you can see, calcium and magnesium is in a lot of the same foods, making it quite easy, with a little planning, to get your Daily Recommended Allowances of both minerals. These foods listed above are also good sources of fibre, which is important for controlling your cholesterol levels. So whether you’re cooking at home or eating out, you can make informed choices that will help lower your risk of heart disease.